Recommended Reading: Selections for First-Year College Students

Recommended Reading books image

Many colleges choose a common reading list to build community around the free exchange of ideas and explore timely challenges from interdisciplinary perspectives. Below is a selection of 2023’s first-year common reading choices from the Society’s 290+ chapters. From a provocative comedy on the roles of women published in 1668 to an exploration of the total eclipse of the sun in 2024, these works showcase the topics meant to inspire the Class of 2027 at the beginning of their arts and sciences journeys.

Revisiting Campus Classics

Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

The Convent of Pleasure by Margaret Cavendish

The Analects by Confucius

Lines Drawn Across the Globe: Reading Richard Hakluyt’s “Principal Navigations” by Mary C. Fuller

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

History & Social Sciences

Streets of Gold: America’s Untold Story of Immigrant Success by Ran Abramitzky and Leah Boustan

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush

How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future by Maria Ressa

The Coming Good Society: Why New Realities Demand New Rights by William F. Schulz and Sushma Raman (ΦBK, Oberlin College)

Contemporary Fiction

The Years by Annie Ernaux

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

The Book of Unkown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky by Margaret Verble 

 Natural Sciences

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson (ΦBK, Harvard College)

Sun, Moon, Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets by Tyler Nordgren

The Octopus in the Parking Garage: A Call for Climate Resilience by Rob Verchick (ΦBK, Stanford University)

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams

Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive by Mark L. Winston

Want to see more? You can find the complete list at